Waiting on a final flurry

Lunchtime for Carters Lake's bass ended at noon. The fifth hour of this six-hour tournament day was the slowest so far. There will have to be some serious last-hour heroics from Scott Rook, Greg Vinson and Shin Fukae as all three are trailing their competitors, Gerald Swindle, Chris Lane and Adrian Avena, respectively, by 5 1/2 pounds or more.


Here are the hourly fish catches today:

8 a.m. to 9 a.m. — 6

9 a.m. to 10 a.m. — 7

10 a.m. to 11 a.m. — 4

11 a.m. to noon — 8

noon to 1 a.m. — 2


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Swindle's Smith Lake trick

The home turf of Gerald Swindle, Smith Lake, has something in common with Carters Lake the Alabamian is using with success today.

Swindle is fishing around the launch site, with a purpose.

“On Smith there are some boat ramps that are kind of isolated on the upper end of the lake,” he explained. “When a tournament launches from those it stirs up the baitfish activity, gets them active and they stay that way for a while.”

Swindle went on to explain that has been an ongoing activity all week, because of the morning and afternoon sessions. Launch time is 8 a.m. with the first session ending at 11:30 a.m. They leave again for the afternoon session at 12:30 p.m., returning at 3:30 p.m. Today the session ends at 2 p.m.

Based on experience, Swindle believes that is why he’s done well around the marina.

“Idling in and out each day I’ve seen a lot of bait, moving around, and that brings in the spotted bass.”

At least two of Swindle’s fish came from the area, the bass weighing 3-6 that got scored at 11:45 a.m. and a 1-2 that he landed three minutes later.

Avena's difference maker

Adrian Avena just scored a bass weighing 1-12 that gave him a confidence boost to stay out deep. For a while, anyway.

“Under these conditions the bite is probably hot on the windy shorelines but this fish tells me there might be a three-pounder in the mix."

Avena still plans to eventually move shallow, fish shorelines with a reaction lure like a jerkbait. For now, he’s wisely sticking to a game plan that has produced well for him thus far. And what the heck, he burned all that midnight oil to paint the spoons after the trip to Walmart.


Carters Lake on, off, back on

As we approached the three-hour/halfway point of today's final, Carters Lake had fished like two different bodies of water. In the first 1 1/2 hours there were 13 bass caught, including a 3-11 by Chris Lane. In the next 80 minutes, only one keeper was caught, a 1-9 by Adrian Avena.

But near 11 a.m., it seemed like the fish suddenly turned on again. Avena caught two, Greg Vinson landed a 1-5 at 10:58 and Gerald Swindle caught a 2-5 at 11:01.

After eating a big breakfast, it appears it's lunch time for Carters Lake's bass.

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Swindle and Lane in close quarters

Gerald Swindle and Chris Lane aren’t matched up but they are in close quarters, fishing shared water around a marina. That is the interesting spin on this bracket format. You aren’t going head to head, fishing for the Classic, outside of your match up. It’s Swindle versus Scott Rook and Lane versus Greg Vinson.

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Avena's trip to Walmart

Adrian Avena spent a restless night, then gave it up at 11 p.m. and did what any insomniac would do. He went to Walmart. The Jersey Boy had a short shopping list. He bought paint to apply on structure spoons.

“I spent two hours in my hotel room painting spoons,” he said. “I thought I was going to gag from the paint fumes.”

One particular color is working quite well. That is pink. The pink spoon combo produced a flurry of action with Avena adding 4 bass to the scoreboard for a total of 6 pounds 4 ounces.

“it’s no different than drop shotting but gives the fish a different look,” he explained. That makes sense considering the fact that soft plastic drop shots have been dangling in front of these clear-water, uneasily fooled spotted bass. The jigging action of the spoon and the different look are proving irresistible to the bass. He even said there is a fired up school in his area.

The paint job might be short lived. In his haste to get the spoons painted Avena didn’t use clear coat over the paint. He did switch the hooks out to No. 2 Berkley Fusion19 1x Treble Hooks.

What’s always impressed me about Avena is his work ethic. He’s all out, get it done no matter what. That is what it will take to earn, the hard way today, one of the three berths in the 2019 Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods.

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Bass biting better today

There were 12 bass caught by the six anglers in the three-hour morning session yesterday, and 12 in the three-hour afternoon session. At 9:15 today, Gerald Swindle caught the 12th keeper on the scoreboard today. Just sayin'....

Lane: "Must be a pile of them"

Chris Lane has now struck twice in nearly successive casts. First, a bass jackhammered his jerkbait and came off. Then on the same retrieve another fish attacked the lure and came aboard as a 2-9 score. After quickly regrouping he put the jerkbait near a dock and scored a bass weighing 3-11.

“There must be a pile of them in there!”

Lane is fired up and so are the bass. He’s got 8-7 on the scoreboard and is coming on strong.

Lane is fishing along a textbook windblown shoreline. He’s playing the wind in his favor where the bass are staging on the outside edges of the boat slips and using those as ambush points as baitfish are swept in by the wind.